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UCLA Researchers Awarded $4.6m for Stem Cell Immunotherapy Trial

The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine has awarded a $4.6 million grant for a phase 1 clinical trial of a new modified blood-forming stem cell immunotherapy targeting sarcomas and other tumors that produce the NY-ESO-1 protein.

The grant has been awarded to researchers at the UCLA Eli and Edyth Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research and the trial will be directed by Theodore Scott Nowicki, MD, a fellow physician in the division of pediatric hematology/oncology at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, in collaboration with Antoni Ribas, MD, PhD, director of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy Center at UCLA.

“Sarcomas are difficult to treat because of their rarity and diversity — the cancer has more than 50 distinct subtypes,” Nowicki said in a press release. “Conventional treatments such as chemotherapies target tumors, and despite decades of research, a single therapy that works across all sarcoma subtypes has not been developed. Immunotherapies hold promise in treating this cancer because they can empower the immune system to fight many different subtypes of the disease.”

The trial will use technology previously developed by Ribas that enables the delivery of T-cell receptor genes into blood-forming stem cells in a two-pronged approach the investigators hope will provide both a short- and long-term immune response to fight cancers. The process begins with collecting the patient’s blood and inserting a gene receptor for the NY-ESO-1 tumor marker in the patient’s blood-forming stem cells.

The researchers believe these modified stem cells will elicit a continuous supply of T cells programmed to identify and kill cells with the NY-ESO-1 marker. This process will take time, however, so the researchers will modify the patient’s own mature T cells to identify the NY-ESO-1 marker so they are immediately available to treat the cancer.

More information on this trial (NCT03240861) is available at clinicaltrials.gov. Providers with potentially eligible patients should contact project scientist Paula Cabrera at pcabrera@mednet.ucla.edu or call (310) 206-2090.

The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine has awarded a $4.6 million grant for a phase 1 clinical trial of a new modified blood-forming stem cell immunotherapy targeting sarcomas and other tumors that produce the NY-ESO-1 protein.

The grant has been awarded to researchers at the UCLA Eli and Edyth Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research and the trial will be directed by Theodore Scott Nowicki, MD, a fellow physician in the division of pediatric hematology/oncology at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, in collaboration with Antoni Ribas, MD, PhD, director of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy Center at UCLA.

“Sarcomas are difficult to treat because of their rarity and diversity — the cancer has more than 50 distinct subtypes,” Nowicki said in a press release. “Conventional treatments such as chemotherapies target tumors, and despite decades of research, a single therapy that works across all sarcoma subtypes has not been developed. Immunotherapies hold promise in treating this cancer because they can empower the immune system to fight many different subtypes of the disease.”

The trial will use technology previously developed by Ribas that enables the delivery of T-cell receptor genes into blood-forming stem cells in a two-pronged approach the investigators hope will provide both a short- and long-term immune response to fight cancers. The process begins with collecting the patient’s blood and inserting a gene receptor for the NY-ESO-1 tumor marker in the patient’s blood-forming stem cells.

The researchers believe these modified stem cells will elicit a continuous supply of T cells programmed to identify and kill cells with the NY-ESO-1 marker. This process will take time, however, so the researchers will modify the patient’s own mature T cells to identify the NY-ESO-1 marker so they are immediately available to treat the cancer.

More information on this trial (NCT03240861) is available at clinicaltrials.gov. Providers with potentially eligible patients should contact project scientist Paula Cabrera at pcabrera@mednet.ucla.edu or call (310) 206-2090.

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